Marijuana dispensaries continue to proliferate and are out of control.

Many of the existing or proposed dispensaries are within two blocks of our schools. Too many of our students come to school high or try to sell marijuana to other students. When confronted, they show us their card that allows them to obtain marijuana from a dispensary, or they get the marijuana from other teens who get it at dispensaries.

In August, the Santa Barbara School District Board of Education sent a letter to elected representatives asking that students be protected by establishing larger zones of restriction around schools and closing dispensaries during lunch and times when students travel home from school. Incredibly, dispensaries are allowed just 500 feet from schools.

We applaud the move to declare a moratorium, but are concerned that it will not apply to the dispensaries already seeking approval.

When California voters agreed to the compassionate use of medical marijuana, I do not think they intended to make it so easy for children to obtain marijuana. Students tell me “the stuff is easy to get,” either directly from the dispensaries as they turn 18 years old or from older teens who get it at the dispensaries. One student told me all he had to do was “buy a prescription” and he “was in business.”

Students high on marijuana are not enhancing their learning. More teens enter treatment for marijuana dependency than for all other illicit drugs combined, and the earlier teens start using marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent later in life.

Our children need better protection.

— Brian Sarvis is superintendent of the Santa Barbara School District.